WordPress Frequently Asked Questions
With the South African economy being what it is, it’s now more important than ever, to have a website that works as it should. Of late, the pricing of websites has dropped considerably – but do cheap offers simply give you a “pretty website” that Google can’t, and won’t rank favorably because the search giant’s most basic compliance factors haven’t been met? For now, Google is the gatekeeper to online success, their list of compliance factors are strict, and there for a reason – why not make these factors work in your favour?
We’ve compiled this list of Frequently Asked Questions, that every business owner should arm themselves with, when considering a new development or upgrading their current website. Looking for website development pricing options? Click here.
WordPress FAQ Navigation
- What are “Annual Costs”?
- What is “On-Page SEO”?
- What is “Off-Page SEO”?
- Is my website SEO compliant?
- What does “SEO Ready” mean?
- What is Google Analytics?
- What is a “Premium” WordPress theme?
- What is WordPress maintenance
- How will I know if my site is broken?
- What happens if my site is hacked?
- Must I use your hosting provider?
- Do we build custom WordPress themes?
- What about Theme or App “Portals”?
- Do free plugins work?
- Should you pay for premium plugins?
- Do we work on other developers’ websites?
- Why are most of our sites not 100% SEO’d
- Do we consult?
- Why aren’t we at position 1?
- Do you really need a website?
- Proposals & schedules
- Why are our prices lower?
- Our payment terms
- What is “Compliance”
- How much does a website cost?
- Ask or add a question
What are “Annual Costs”?
Services like hosting, domain name registration, WordPress maintenance, premium plugin and premium theme licenses are paid for in advance for the following 12 months, and are required to be renewed annually. These are provided by third party companies that provide services to keep your website online, secure and up to global compliance standards.
What does “SEO Ready” mean?
SEO Ready means the site is built to be optimised later for search engine inclusion. The website has the functionality built in, so that when you have the budget to do so, you can get your site into search results on search engines such as Google, Bing & Yahoo
What is “On-Page SEO”?
On-Page SEO is the “enhancement” of website pages (and the content on those pages) so that they perform and rank better in search results. Google and other search engines have a strict list of on-page compliance factors that are required to be in place before they rank and position your pages effectively in their search results. Bad (or no On-Page) SEO can harm your business’s online presence, and make it difficult for people interested in what you sell, to find you. Read more about On-Page SEO here.
What is “Off-Page SEO”?
Off-Page SEO is the process of deliberately creating links and/or directing traffic to your website from other sources to improve your online presense, trustworthiness and domain authority. These can be links from blogs, listings, websites, social media or other technologies such as the ASR Search Engine. It’s important that the sites linking to you are trustworthy too – spammy or dodgy sites that link to you can also make your site look bad and underperform in search results.
How would I know if my website is SEO compliant?
As the client, you probably wouldn’t know. There are specific tools such as Moz and Screaming Frog (among others), that can be used to fully diagnose your website and see if it’s up to SEO standards. Most offer parts of their services for free, but it’s strongly suggested to use the complete, paid for versions to ensure you get a full picture of what your site requires to be compliant. A lack of search engine compliance (and optimisation) also restricts your online advertising – you could loose valuable audience data/insights, remarketing opportunities and search engine ranking. Read more about why your site should be compliant. We offer full diagnostic assessments with, or without an action plan so that you can implement the necessary steps to get your site up to speed – These assessments are subject to upfront costs, to cover our time spent. contact us to do a diagnostic assessment on your website.
What is “Google Analytics”?
Our latest website packages have Google Analytics included, and reports are delivered to you monthly via email. Google Analytics may serve as a hub for all your online activities, and provides you with information (Data) on your website visitors: Where they are based, how frequently they visit, if they’re new or returning, which pages were accessed, which pages they saw first or last, how they journeyed through your site, their gender, age and how long they stayed on the website. Google Analytics can do a lot more than simply provide traffic reports, it can also over time, give you an idea of what people visiting your site, are interested in.
What is “Monthly WordPress Maintenance”?
WordPress is the leading free, open-source, content management technology behind most websites online today, this makes it a target for attacks from hackers and other sources. To stay ahead of the curve and make sure websites using WordPress stay secure, updates and improvements are released often – these updates need to be implemented quickly and consistently. Without being updated, websites become a security risk, are deranked by Google and ultimately will fail. Manually updating your website is advised. WordPress maintenance also includes manual backups, cache, clearing and on-site security scans among other activities. Read more about what goes into WordPress Maintenance here.
Must I use your hosting provider?
Yes, unfortunately we don’t deal with (other) third party hosting companies. Some of our older clients have insisted, and still host elsewhere (we have, unfortunately had to remove ourselves from actively managing their hosting). Clients acquired after 2018 are hosted with Xneelo.co.za (Previously known as Hetzner). We’ve tried and tested many local and global hosting companies, but they just don’t seem to measure up. Hidden costs, bad bandwidth / server allocation, lack of support, the time it takes to resolve issues, accessibility to make changes when required and value for money have all played a major part in our hosting choices. Cheap is nasty (Please believe us when we say this) – bad or slow hosting not only affects your business, but also affects your website’s SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) and ranking position in online search. No business is perfect, but for now (and in our experience), we trust Xneelo with our own and our clients’ hosting requirements. Read more about why reliable hosting is essential for your business.
Do we build our own WordPress themes?
No, we don’t and we try to completely avoid custom builds. Experience has taught us that very few clients “Don’t know what they want, but they know how to get it” (after the fact). There are numerous occasions where we’ve taken over custom WordPress developments where the most basic aspects/functionality for future growth were missing, effectively trapping the client into paying for further development at a price that was unacceptable. WordPress is supposed to be an expandable, customisable, self-service CMS system that you, as the client has the option to manage yourself. The themes we use can be adapted to any layout and carry any functionality you may need now or in the future. Business is business and we understand that developers need to make a living, therefore we support developers that “see the big, long-term picture”, provide themes that are fully customisable after sale and have the client’s best interests at heart. We make sure these developers offer affordable annual licenses to provide 24/7/365 advice/coding support, don’t try to hide costs, and don’t try to swindle us (or you) into a relationship where you are held to ransom or hidden costs. If our themes are discontinued, fail or lack ongoing support, we guarantee to rebuild a new site for you at a 50% discount of buying a new one. Read more about why a custom WordPress build is a bad idea here.
What about “Theme or App Portals”?
Try to avoid the likes of Theme Forest and Envato, these are middle-men online shops that sell themes offered by smaller developers. By all means use these portals to find good developers who offer direct support to you via their official websites or ticketing systems. Jumping through yet another hurdle to have your site developed or supported is unnecessary. If a developer doesn’t have the time or systems in place to look after what they are selling, then look elsewhere. Do research on the theme you’ve chosen, look for reviews and follow their support forums on WordPress.org.
How will I know if my site is broken?
You probably won’t, unless you’re receiving weekly or monthly security reports to say otherwise. The sites we manage all have on-site security built in, we also monitor our Google integration, so we’re notified of any issues as they occur. We maintain our sites regularly, so we login at least once a week. For new client sites that have been built by someone else, before we start working with you, we do a full diagnostic test and provide a detailed report at a cost. This report can be used at your discretion, by anyone, to fix your site – regardless of whether we are involved or not.
What happens if a site you built is hacked or fails?
Any site can fail for a number of reasons, some beyond our control (Think bad hosting, outdated themes, discontinued plugins, or passwords stolen from a computer that’s been infected in your organisation). Our hosting ensures your site is backed up daily, we also do manual backups outside of the hosting environment. If a site fails, we can have a backup reinstituted within a few hours. We also change passwords periodically – just to be safe.
Do free WordPress plugins work?
Yes they do. In 99% of cases the plugins we choose, work perfectly. WordPress development in general is based on community trust – chancers and dodgy operators are quickly called out. Plugins that aren’t regularly supported or brought up to speed with WordPress’s core updates are flagged. When this happens, we discontinue use, seek out other plugins to fill the gap, or find a workaround. Nothing is perfect, but imagine that there’s no one keeping an eye on flagged plugins? Would you as the client know? Would your site be safe? This is why ongoing WordPress Maintenance is essential.
Should you pay for premium plugins?
In certain cases, depending on your requirements, yes. This will depend on your budget, what your goals are and if that cost is justified. Most premium plugins range from $5 USD to $79 USD per annum, if all your plugins are premium (Paid for in full), your site can cost you upwards of $1000 USD or more per year. For an SME, these costs are just too high. We suggest starting small/simple, and pay-as-you-grow. Monitor your data, analytics, ROI and decide further. Ask us about the best route to follow.
Do we work on other developers’ websites?
We do, but we must stress, that sometimes “You can’t polish a turd”. More than a quarter of the sites we manage have had to be rebuilt from the ground up. Sites that have been built with outdated technologies, or have been left unattended (not maintained) for a long period of time are usually infected by all manner of bugs and hacks. In these cases it’s quicker (and cheaper for you) to rebuild, secure and optimise the site from scratch.
Why are most of our sites not 100% SEO’d?
Because our clients are small to medium business owners, most don’t have the budgets to continuously grow their off-page compliance or online authority. SEO, like traditional marketing is an on-going process that’s required to be monitored and adjusted to trends or advancements in technology, it’s not a quick fix (in business, nothing really is). The costs of premium plugins or development, lack of new/ongoing content or, the business owner’s lack of time to develop an effective online strategy, all hinder the growth of off-page SEO. Many small business owners don’t see the value in organic reach, so their sites (and online ecosystems) have been developed to a certain point, and no further. Read more about the factors that contribute to effective SEO here.
Do you consult on web development?
Yes we do. If you’re thinking of launching a website and using SEO, give us a call, we can provide you with a checklist for your developer to implement, and for you to follow up on, to ensure your website is compliant and healthy.
Why are our prices lower than say, a digital agency?
We are a small group of independent freelancers who come out of the conventional and digital agency environments, collectively we have over 100 years of ad agency experience across all marketing aspects. Our overheads are low because we all operate remotely as separate entities, look after our own infrastructures and are more flexible. Conventional agencies have processes to follow, have big overheads, big salaries, big bonuses and have to answer to their shareholders – SMEs simply can’t afford to work with these types of organisations – our target niche is the SME owner.
What are our payment terms?
Usually we accept 50% of our time/costs on acceptance of the quotation, 50% on completion of the project or particular phase. 100% of third party services’ costs are required to be paid upfront – such as annual hosting, domain registration, Google ads or any other third party services that we have to pay upfront. We do however offer payment terms on request (pay your project off over 3 months), as long as our third party suppliers are initially covered – this way, both us and our clients, carry the risk equally.
Why do we charge for proposals and schedules?
Unfortunately we’ve learned the hard way. In the past, certain clients have contracted/agreed to work further with us, but after receiving our free proposals and schedules, have either used them internally without us, or passed them onto other development companies to use without our consent. We’re not in the game for short-term fishing expeditions, we value cooperative, jointly agreed upon, long term relationships – we believe this is the only way all project stakeholders can benefit.
Why aren’t we at position 1 in Google Search?
We are – only for specific search results, in certain regions, depending on what we’re promoting. Just like our clients, as a collective, we are also bound to budgets. We also don’t play in the “Advertising Agency” or “Digital Agency” keyword space, there are just too many larger companies to bid against for obvious keyword choices. We also use multiple platforms and channels to find leads (Not only Google ads or Social Media). Every business is different and there’s no single formula to online marketing – we assess each client (and ourselves) and work according to their strategy, immediate to mid-term goals, and obviously within budget. Most SMEs can’t afford a full digital marketing package, all at once, at the same level as a corporate concern. There are many ways to skin a cat or eat the elephant one bite at a time.
Do you really need a WordPress, Joomla or other type of website?
Honestly?, no. The Internet offers all manner of marketing platforms you can use to grow your business. Many SMEs are taken in by trends and fads that in themselves take years to master. Some of these trends fall away in time with a lot of time and money wasted in the process (Remember Flash?). We use websites as the central online monitoring point for your marketing efforts, but it can’t be seen as the only point of data/intelligence acquisition. There are a number of paid and free online channels that can be used effectively, but it must be said, that the gatekeeper or benchmark currently, is Google and their requirements. Until this changes, a website would be the funnel or bridge between your business and your online customers. Contact us to discuss building other options, apps or systems for your business.